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A Case Study - Day 1: Living Well and Spending Zero by Ruth Soukup

A Case Study - Day 1: Living Well and Spending Zero by Ruth Soukup

Today is Day One of Living Well and Spending Zero for our household.  For those of you who don’t know, “Living Well & Spending Zero” is a book written by budgeting and household management guru Ruth Soukup (her website is Livingwellspendingless.com).  While I’m not here to plug the book or the site, I thought it would be fun to document our family experience via the Heidi’s Homestead blog (which has been a bit neglected because of some recent health issues).

So I’m about two hours into Day 1, but this day did not start without some preparation.  The first thing I did was sit down with my husband last night to get his buy-in, discuss the ground rules, and negotiate events or activities on our calendar that will most indeed cost money.

This is far from the ideal month to do this sort of challenge, but I realized it’s kind of like having a baby.  There’s no perfect time to do it sometimes.  You just gotta go for it, so despite it being the month that we have a vacation planned and the kids have back-to-school expenses, I decided to forge ahead. Our goal for this challenge is to 1) Reset our spending habits 2) Save some money 3) Challenge and change our mindsets around money and the need to spend it and 4) Find ways to get creative with what we already have.

Day 1 is really about getting ready. We prepared the night before Day 1 because my husband works, and it was really the only time I could get in with him.  This does not mean you go on a shopping spree for a month’s worth of supplies.  Instead, we discussed and agreed on what grocery and toiletry items we could spend money on set a small budget ($25 a week), and also budgeted for things that we had already committed to like our camping trip (I’ll discuss that further in a bit), a vet expense (Tucker’s heartworm shot which cannot be missed), and whether or not we were going to continue with the weekly housekeeper (Yes, indeed).  We also listed what we could absolutely NOT buy.  Our list included planner supplies/stickers (I have a planner problem), furniture and home décor, fast food/restaurants and kombucha making supplies for my latest interest.

Interestingly enough, the very first thing I have to do after establishing the ground rules is clear and adjust my calendar.  I had to start cancelling a lot of plans or being creative with plans.  For example, my friend and I are supposed to meet for breakfast this week.  In lieu of going out, I decided to invite her to my home, and I would make breakfast.  Easy enough. There were some things that I just had to outright cancel, such as an upcoming church concert and date nights (ugh!).

So, if you haven’t figured it out now, there really is no grocery shopping for the month (except for the agreed items in the ground rules).  I’m excited and terrified.  I hate grocery shopping, but it also means that we must dig deep in our cupboards and freezers (mystery meat! Yikes!) so that we can create meals for the family. I did cheat a little bit when it came to the kids’ camp lunches and bought supplies for the next two weeks yesterday.  Fortunately, we recently purchased ¼ of a cow, so our freezer is full of beef.  I also have several emergency crock pot meals stored away, so I know we have options.  This, I think will be the most interesting part.  I started off right away with a food crisis when I ran out of jam this morning for sandwiches.  A few minutes later I found myself rummaging through the laundry room where I found an amazing stash of homemade peach and blackberry jam that I had forgotten about (Thanks, Peter!).  Ah, the joys of being a homesteader….

Then there’s the camping trip.  How do you go on a camping trip without spending any money?  Well, the RV that we are renting has already been paid for.  Our expenses for this trip will include fuel, and an agreed amount for camping supplies ($25).  That’s it.  We’ll have to manage with what we’ve got.

There’s also back-to-school shopping.  How did I manage that?  I didn’t.  The kids have plenty of clothes, and we typically have a $50 monthly budget allotment for clothing for the kids.  We buy things as needed instead of having these back-to-school shopping sprees which can be a money vortex.  I bought 2 things for each child for back to school: a backpack and socks.  School supplies were ordered via the kit option that the school offered in May or June (I love this!), so no school supply shopping mayhem (I did that once. Never again.).

On today’s agenda for Living Well and Spending Zero is canceling calendar items, readjusting my budget for a zero spending month (yes, you still have bills to pay, lol), and to figure out how to mail some items to my mother without spending any money.

I’m really excited about this journey!  I have heard from others that it really changed their mindsets around money and that is what I struggle with.  Wish us luck, and I will try to keep you updated daily on our progress!

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